I had to stop by the office today. I took my 10 AM break / walk as I always do and ran into a coworker whom I’d not seen in a year (let’s call her “Betty”). She mentioned that she was not going to get a vaccine because she’s not “buying into it.” I don’t think I can remain friends with her.
I’ve been one of those Work From Home people for over a year now. I hate it. But I realize that it’s something that needed to happen in order for our nation to overcome the COVID pandemic. People I know have contracted COVID. Some got sicker than others. But all my friends who have been sick have survived.
But I also know friends who in turn have lost friends or loved ones. In some cases my friends were angry and resentful. In others, they were surprised and caught off-guard. But in all cases, my friends felt pain at having lost a person who mattered in their lives.
Betty is someone whom I’d meet occasionally for an after-work beer in the “before time” (prior to the lockdown). We’d complain about our bosses and she’d tell me all the gossip about other departments she works with. Sometimes, other friends would be there as well.
I mentioned to Betty that I’d received my 2nd vaccine dose and that I’m looking forward to the next “beer session.” I asked Betty if she’d gotten her vaccines yet.
“I’m not gonna get one,” she said. “I’m not buying into all that. I’ve been going to bars, I have always come to work, and I’m not going to get sick.” I responded that as an old, fat man (I admit it) I didn’t want to take a chance on getting sick. She acknowledged that but was clearly unconvinced.
She’s not the only friend in my life with that, or a similar attitude.
A former shipmate (let’s call him “Steve”) from my days in the US Navy is a conservative person who tries to portray himself as an independent free thinker. Hint: he’s not. He’s a staunch conservative who supported the “former guy.” To his credit, he works hard to justify his positions with science based facts, despite his supporting arguments being undercut by actual science more often than not. Still, even today, he doesn’t see the need for returning university students to be vaccinated since they’re likely to survive a bout with COVID and he has complained about this on social media. It just doesn’t occur to him that those students could infect a professor, other students, or people working at the university. He says it “makes no sense.”
Like most conservative people, both of my friends see things through a “me first” lens. Both Betty and Steve state that since they (themselves) have not been affected by COVID, society should not impose the responsibility of vaccination on them. The concept of “social responsibility” is lost on them as it is on most conservatives.
So I will no longer be joining Betty for the occasional beer session. If after more than half a MILLION deaths in this nation caused by COVID, and the illness of friends and co-workers she is still not convinced that this is something she needs to “buy into,” then I clearly need to move on. I will be unapologetic at that. We clearly view life from a different perspective.
Goodbye, Betty. It’s not me. It’s you.